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The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) is a fragmented region: in spite of its relative cultural and historical homogeneity, it has some of the lowest levels of intra-regional trade, political cooperation and legal migration in the world.

This is largely due to the fact that, since the end of the Second World War, it has experienced the full spectrum of political violence. Conventional, hybrid, and civil wars, revolutions, and terrorism have hindered political and economic development, and created fertile ground for further violence. Breaking this ‘conflict trap’ is imperative for the states of the region, as well as those actors who have a stake in it.

For the EU, the MENA is of strategic importance for three reasons:

  • it is an immediate geographic neighbour,
  • a crucial passage for goods traveling to and from Europe (including oil and gas),
  • and it has been historically unstable.

The region’s security and economic situation is consequently closely intertwined with that of Europe. This explains the Union’s desire to contribute to regional stability through different means such as the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP), the Barcelona Process and the Union for the Mediterranean.

The EUISS seeks to contribute to the EU’s overall effort in the MENA by providing in-depth analyses on a number of key issues affecting the region.


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    01September 1996

    In December 1994, the WEU Permanent Council gave the Institute for Security Studies the task of analysing the security and defence policies of the Maghreb countries and Egypt, in liaison with security institutes in those countries. This was to become an addition to the Institute's continuing work on Mediterranean security.

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    01September 1992

    Earlier this year the Institute asked Professor Rémy Leveau to prepare a study on Algeria: adversaries in search of uncertain compromises.' This was discussed at a meeting of specialists on North African politics held in the Institute. In view of the continuing importance of developments in Algeria the Institute asked Professor Leveau to prepare this revised version of his paper for wider circulation.